Most people climb Arthur’s Pike from Howtown by Ullswater, but there is a longer and more interesting route from the village of Askham, incorporating part of the High Street Roman road.
It was a bright day as we left the village, though black clouds glowered over distant Blecathra. We followed the bridleway up from Askham to the small woodland of Riggingleys Top, from where there are considerable views over the northern Lake District.
A good and broad track across the open moorland of Askham Fell brought us to the Bronze Age stone circle called The Cockpit – very impressive in its location on a broad plain of hillside. Seventy-five stones in all, though some are fallen or partially buried.
Now High Street is a Roman Road linking the Eden Valley to the Roman fort at Ambleside. As anyone who’s climbed the mountain named after will know there is a distinctive track. But on Askham Fell it is – as the OS map suggests – very much a “Course of”. And some of it a bit marshy too.
A heavy shower swept in from the west as we climbed the hill, but it didn’t last long and heralded a day of clear views and bright sunshine.
It is not easy to find the start and the path following its line is very indistinct in its early stages as it climbs gently south of Brown Rigg. But it’s worth persevering with because as it gains height and leaves the marshy ground behind it becomes much clearer.
Soon we were level with Arthur’s Pike, a very easy Wainwright, but we found it best not to take a direct line. Continuing South West for a half mile, and soon after passing a boundary stone, High Street comes close to the path connecting the Pike with its neighbour Loadpot Hill. Cut across the heather here and head north to Arthur’s Pike itself.
A modest Wainwright summit and by no means a pike in reality it is though a superb viewpoint, not only over the waters of Ullswater, but of many of the mountains of northern Lakeland.
A good track leads down to the Aik Beck where there is a charming little waterfall, an ideal place for a picnic.
Then a return back across Askham Fell and down to the village itself. Grand views now over the Eden Valley and the north Pennines, Cross Fell glowering under dark clouds in the distance.
A very good walk and the Askham antiquities deserve a day of exploration all on their own.